Friday, November 14, 2008

Psalm 1


In this provocative blog post, C. J. Mahaney helps me ask a change-conducive question: "Am I deploying my daily life fruitfully or just racing through it busily?" I am drawn back to Psalm 1.

The psalm bristles with contrasts. Not nuances. Stark contrasts. And not because the psalm is simplistic but because it is so profound. In this world's Gadarene rush of ever-expanding options we need that blunt clarity. Psalm 1 calls us back to the one choice we all face every day: good versus evil. It's that profound. It's a choice between simple confidence in the Spirit-filled ways of God versus nervous, hyper-active, carnal worldliness.

Here are a couple of ways the psalm achieves that clarity. The word "not" occurs six times (in the Hebrew text), and the word "but" occurs three times. The logic embedded in Psalm 1 is "not this, but that." The wicked/sinners/scoffers in verse 1 are all actively busy, discussing their counsels and proceeding in their ways and ridiculing everything from their lofty seats. But is it getting them anywhere, really? Taking a closer look in verse 4, we discover that they are being blown along as chaff before the wind. By contrast, the blessed man is meditating on God's law, in verse 2. He is planted like a tree, in verse 3. And his life is really making a difference. It's a picture of impotent restlessness versus fruitful quietness. Wasn't it Pascal who said that all the world's troubles are due to men's inability to sit quietly in a room and read a book? Couldn't we make that case for The Book?

Busyness can be a drug. It makes us feel important and needed. Fruitfulness is another matter. It is a miracle of God's grace through his Word, imparted to a heart that stays quiet and low before him, set upon doing his will only.

I need this.